Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Because I owe you one...

I just realized how much time has already gone by since that last post. It has almost been 2 weeks! I had no idea! Time is really flying by me.

I have had all kinds of great post ideas floating around in my head, but never have the time and/or mental energy to really pull one together. So I haven´t written anything. Instead, I am going to give you a few blurbs of the ideas that have been rumbling around in my head, and maybe some day in the future I will expound on anything I feel like gets cheated by doing it this way.

I wrote a while back about the independent streak in American culture vs. the community orientation of Mexican culture. What follows are some of the things I have been noticing that play out of that difference.

For example, in America, we get tons of junk mail and correspondence from companies we are affliated with (ie banks, credit cards, car, etc). This is the primary form of communication from advertisers and companies that want to keep us informed of our standing with them. Here in Mexico, people go door to door. This is in part because the mail system is so unreliable, but it really plays a part in the different sense of community. Salespeople, creditors, even the government - they all come to your door if they need or want to make contact with you. And if you are not home, it is perfectly acceptable to explain the purpose of your visit to a neighbor and ask them to make the contact for you. Can you imagine the average American´s response to a creditor or government official explaining their problems to a neighbor?

Although there is now what I would definetly consider a mall here in Saltillo, and many large plazas, in general you go about shopping in a very different way. When you want to, ´go shopping´, you go downtown and walk the streets wandering in and out of little shops. If you just need to grab something, you walk to the nearby appropriate shop in your neighborhood. For example, if you need a notebook or a map, you go to the nearnest ´papeleria´(paper shop). If you need a gift, or the fixings to wrap a gift, find the nearest shop labeled ´regalos´(gifts). Oh, and don´t bother buying whole rolls of paper for a single gift - there is no place in the house to store it anyways. Just buy a sheet or 2 for about a quarter.

In America, we generally chant the mantra that beggars and panhandlers are just trying to get another fix of drugs or alcohol (so don´t give them any money). Here it is understood that you are not so far above the person asking and it is very hard to find work, especially if you have any type of disability. A large percentage of the population freely gives out their pocket change to everyone from the person sitting on the sidewalk to the person somehow performing entertainment in the street in hopes of donations to the deaf person that walks door to door with a paper explaining her plight. Homemade food being sold door to door is also easily bought up.

Well, enough cultural comparisons for the moment. I have to get going. But I´ll try to write again sooner this time!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wow, so interesting! love hearing about the differences in culture. and i agree with you, we Americans would FREAK OUT and probably sue someone if they told a neighbor our business. but like you said, what a huge diff in the sense of community...

i can't imagine, in business, having our primary form of communication be door-to-door... there are definite benefits, but it would add on so much cost that it wouldn't happen here, Americans are all about the bottom line. besides the fact that it's difficult to catch people at home here. also besides the fact that about 90% of my business contacts are outside of NY state, seeing them all in person would involve alot of flying :) maybe then i'd finally get a chance to ride in the company jet! haha. but the sad thing is, even in my own office, most of the time we don't walk to each other's offices to ask questions, we buzz each other on the phone or send emails.

so now i understand why my company's Mexico sales rep always delivers our invoices in person. i just thought he was being a little over the top, by always having to take the invoices to the customer, but i didn't realize that it was an expected cultural thing.